What exactly is passion? And how can we align it to our everyday work?
In this series, we meet the everyday people living life to the greatest potential by aligning passion to their work.
We meet the people who have been able to turn their passions into a career or a career into their passions. They have been able to find value in something they love and live giving value to others.
Nicki is living the dream as she attends to all different types of beautiful dogs in her very own doggy daycare. Her unconditional love and passion for dogs has led her down a pathway that allows her to cuddle and train dogs to be relaxed and confident. But it wasn’t always that easy.
Curious about how she managed to align her passion for dogs into a full-time career and business, we asked her to find out.
Promote This: Tell us a bit about Mind My Lead?
Nicki: Mind My Lead is a doggy daycare Monday to Friday and we also offer holiday care and overnight care (24/7 care). We’re rare in the fact that we offer something you just can’t find elsewhere. No one offers what we currently do and I saw a niche. I wouldn’t leave my dog in a boarding kennel personally — I’ve left some dog kennels before feeling pretty anxious!
Dogs sleep with us overnight and we have large areas for dogs to stay over or if there’s just a few dogs then we’ve got a large bedroom upstairs. We try to make it at home — there’s a tv room, there’s heaps of comfy different styles of bedding available, we cook for them, they can choose a raw diet if they prefer, and we just make it so they are in a similar environment to their home.
Promote This: You’re living the dream!
Nicki: I most certainly am.
Promote This: What made you start Mind My Lead in the first place?
Nicki: Well, I’ve always had a passion for dogs & animal welfare and my dad — when he was alive — was very passionate about dogs and animal welfare and that’s where I think the genes came from. Dad worked around dogs, breeding & training dogs and so I’ve always been around them. I’ve also done charity work where I lived overseas, I took time off work without pay and moved to Indonesia for six months to volunteer in an animal rescue/adoption centre, to help the Bali street dogs and help desex dogs around Seminyak and Legian, Kuta and in the mountains in Ubud. Then my Dad sadly fell terminally ill, and I was in real estate for 15 years and I just thought, what the hell am I doing? It’s not for me. I took 18 months off work and spent time with my Dad, and I wasn’t working and chose to study and be with him in hospital so I got my Cert lll in Dog Behaviour & Training.
My dream was to open up a doggy day care because I knew that no one could do what I do in the way that I do it. I knew there was a niche. People walk in and feel that we’re genuine and really care about the dogs and their welfare. We’ve created a peaceful, calm environment where dogs feel safe and have oodles of fun. Dogs are well stimulated through activities and fun while learning good manners. They’re only really barking if they are play-barking or protecting me should strangers walk by the outside gate!
Promote This: Speaking about passion, what do you think passion means to you personally?
Nicki: I think it’s about going to the nth degree to do it and to succeed. It’s not an effort. It just comes naturally. You put your 200% into it and it brings tears to your eyes sometimes when you talk about it.
Promote This: It must be very rewarding.
Nicki: Look it’s very hard work, often 12-14 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week but I have really wonderful staff now and it’s worth the long hours to see the enriched environment we have created for the dogs.
Promote This: You’ve found your passion and you’re living through it everyday. For someone who hasn’t aligned their passion to their work and might be seeking to, what advice would you give?
Nicki: I think people know what their passions are, people are just too scared to take the step and plunge forward to make it happen. Personally I believe you need to take risks to succeed. People need to follow their dreams. I know that sounds cliche, I’ve watched many people public speak and they say ‘you can do it!’ ‘Take a risk…’ and I know that they are the ones that succeed.
Promote This: But that’s the reality!
Nicki: It is the reality. And I’m living proof of that reality. It takes a good three or four years for a business to take-off, and it took us about two years here. When the passion comes, the money will follow later. You’ve got to put in the hard work and the rewards come later.
I talk to my girlfriends about it — a friend once said, “I just can’t believe what you’re doing, having the confidence to start your own business from scratch and I’m going on 50 now and I wish I have the courage to do what you’ve done, follow my dreams.” And I always say, you’re never too old. Stop making excuses!
I sat with my Dad in hospital and I said, ‘nope, I’m opening a doggy daycare.’ No one in the course I did was planning to open up a doggy daycare. There was a couple of people who wanted to be groomers or they had no motivation to start a new business. I think you’ve got to be a risk-taker and not sit on the fence.
Promote This: What have been some of the highlights?
Nicki: There’s many different times a day where I’ll shed a tear, a happy tear. Or there’s times where I’m walking around smiling and I’ll catch myself. Or I’ll have 23 dogs here in during rest period, they’ll all be here around me, laying on their backs with four legs in the air, feeling so content and happy. That’s what makes my day…watching many different breeds of dogs, with different temperaments, playing respectfully and truly having the times of their lives. Many dogs don’t want to go home at night or scratch the door down to get in, in the morning!
I’m a dog trainer too and I’ll sometimes go out on consultation and more often than not they’ll be people who want their dogs to go through socialisation, or there’ll be dogs who have behaviour issues or show signs of fear aggression. To see the transformation of the dogs in a few weeks and to see the confidence they’ve built from training them along with the enhanced relationship with their owner, that’s what’s most rewarding for me.
Promote This: We’re not sure if you can answer this, but what’s your favourite dog type?
Nicki: Any type. I honestly couldn’t tell you. I’m spoilt for choice with my job and I feel like it would be discrimination if I favored one breed! They’re all beautiful. And that’s my motto. All I will say is, should you be looking to add a dog to your family, please consider a rescue dog, as there are many beautiful dogs up for adoption who need their forever home too.